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EU leaders discuss response to rising energy prices in Prague

The leaders of the European Union (EU) will debate this Friday, at an informal summit in Prague, the community bloc’s response to the rise in energy prices, with countries such as Portugal insisting on the importance of a common European response.

The agenda of this informal European Council, which will be followed up in two weeks after a formal summit in Brussels, also contemplates the sustainability of financial and military support to Ukraine, but the meeting will be dominated by a debate, which is expected to be lively , on how the EU should deal with the energy price crisis, given the different sensitivities, and in light of the ‘bazooka’ recently announced by Germany, criticized by many Member States.

In the letter of invitation addressed to the leaders of the 27, the President of the European Council, Charles Michel, guarantees that the “main concern” will be to examine the best way to “address the high prices for families and companies, support growth and employment, and protect the most vulnerable, who are the ones who suffer the most from high electricity bills”.

“More than ever, the key will be our ability to come together and coordinate our political response, in a spirit of solidarity and in defense of our common interests,” he wrote.

One of the issues on the table – at a summit which, being informal, will not take decisions – will be the imposition of a ‘ceiling’ on gas prices, demanded by a growing number of Member States, including Portugal, but which has deserved opposition from Germany, criticized by several capitals for choosing instead to ‘inject’ 200,000 million euros to help families and businesses cope with energy prices, in which many Member States, which do not have the same budgetary capacity, they understand it as an individualist position, with the ‘cap’ of the European Commission.

In response, Commission President Ursula von der Leyen addressed a letter to the leaders of the 27 as a contribution to the Prague discussion, suggesting various measures to address the acute energy crisis this fall and winter, when cuts are feared. in the supply of gas to Europe. opening the door to an intervention to temporarily limit prices in the natural gas market, in addition to advocating joint acquisition and management at the European level, negotiations with countries such as Norway and the United States and even limits on the price of natural gas to the electrical production.

In the letter, Von der Leyen assumes that the energy crisis “is serious and has entered a new phase”, given the proximity of the cold season, and asks for cooperation to face this “joint challenge”.

On Thursday, upon his arrival in Prague, António Costa – who participated with the 26 remaining EU leaders plus the heads of state or government of 17 other countries on the European continent in the first meeting of the European Political Community – defended a mechanism to face the rise in energy prices, hoping that the example of the response to the pandemic will be followed, and not the “error” of individual solutions in previous crises.

Costa insisted on the need for the community block to equip itself with “a common response mechanism” to the energy price crisis, and even suggested that this could be done with existing resources, that is, with unused funds of the ‘bazooka’ created for the energy crisis. Covid-19 pandemic, the ‘NextGenerationEU’.

Asked specifically about Germany’s new ‘bazooka’, an aid package of 200,000 million euros for German families and companies to deal with high energy prices, the head of government replied that “the example of the German economic package , such as the packages that each country has been adopting based on its own budgetary capacity, what they show is that, in addition to each country’s own capacity, it is essential to have a common response mechanism from the EU”, as happened in 2020, in the face of the crisis caused by the pandemic.

In this informal meeting, the 27 will also discuss the EU’s response to the escalation of Russian aggression, in light of Russia’s illegal annexation of the Ukrainian regions of Donetsk, Kherson, Lugansk and Zaporizhia, after ‘referendums ‘ fraudulent that the 27 have already secured. they will never recognize.-, and the sustainability of the financial and military support to Ukraine, with a new intervention by videoconference of the Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky that is planned.

“We will continue to strengthen our restrictive measures to further increase the pressure on Russia to end its war. At our meeting we will discuss how to continue to provide strong economic, military, political and financial support to Ukraine for as long as necessary.” Charles Michel wrote in the invitation letter, adding that the 27 will also discuss how to protect their critical infrastructure, also in light of the Nord Stream pipeline incidents, which the EU suspects are the result of sabotage.

Source: TSF

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